2006 World Championships

Calgary, Canada

Ladies Qualifying Report     Men's Qualifying Report
Ladies Report     Men's Report    Pairs Report    Dance Report

2006 Worlds - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


(Click on the above links for detailed results and reports)

Saturday, March 25

Results in the ladies event falls into the "whodathunkit" category.  Kimmie wins gold, Fumie silver, Sasha bronze.

The audience, however, did not agree with the result for third place, tending to favor (by the sound of it) Sokolova.  With less than 100 points in the qualifying round, however,  Elena pretty much put herself out of the running for a medal, even with a third place finish in the final Free Skate.  A better question to ask, is whether Cohen really deserved the best Program Component marks in the Free Skating, for a program with several errors and which was skated with trepidation for more than half of it.  Now there's a good topic for the fans to lay into.  And speaking of Cohen, what a sad, forlorn look she had on the podium.

Friday, March 24

Ladies Short Program this morning and then Dance Free Skate this afternoon.  Abandon all hope of a medal for the U.S.  Our prediction for the top five places are: the Bulgarians and Canadians in the top two spots (choose your favorite order); the French third; U.S. fourth; and the Lithuanians fifth.  The best chance Belbin & Agosto had to move up was in the OD, given that their Free Dance at the Olympics was scored fourth.  If the current results are due to a few judges working to skew the scores, as appears to be the case, the damage is done.

Later that day ...

Well, so much for that prediction.

While the Bulgarian and Canadian couples indeed took the top two spots in the Dance event today, but Belbin & Agosto managed to take the bronze medal event though they placed fourth in the Free Dance itself.  Dorbiazko & Vanagas pulled off an upset second place finish in the Free Dance while Delobel & Schoenfelder dropped to fifth in the Free Dance, and the resulting split in the marks allowed Belbin & Agosto to place third overall.  Until we get the protocol in computer readable from, a thorough analysis will have to wait; but from a quick inspection of the marks it seems clear that ech of the top five teams were scored first by at least one judge.  Most likely their own (if they had one).

Earlier in the day, the Ladies Short Program was skated, with the victory in that segment going to Sasha Cohen.  Cohen now leads overall by 3.78 points over Fumie Suguri.  After the top two, five skaters are numerically within reasonable striking distance for the bronze medal.

Thursday, March 23

In the Original Dance Denkova & Staviski and Dubriel & Lauzon held their positions in the one-two spots.  Belbin & Agosto placed fourth in the dance and are now fourth overall, being overtaken by Delobel & Schoenfelder, who hold third place by 0.08 points.

So now one asks, were Belbin & Agosto over marked at the Olympics and, thus, the results here reasonable.  Or is the fix in?

Looking over the protocol from the OD one again finds judges who's marks are systematically anomalous, and which favor the Bulgarian and French teams and work against the American team.  For those interested in studying the protocol when it is posted, the discard judges were judges 6, 7 and 8, as listed on the protocol.

There have been rumors swirling here that an effort would be made to support the Bulgarian and French teams, and hinder the American team.  Thus far, the marks form the first two dances appear to support those rumors.

In the Men's event, Stephane Lambiel successfully defended his title with a fine skate.  Evan Lysacek gave a strong performance to place third in the Free Skating and third overall, to repeat as bronze medalist.  Emanuel Sandhu gave a better performance that in the qualifying rounds, but there were numerous errors and it was not good enough to medal.  In addition to sloppy jumps (three of which had negative GoEs), Sandhu threw away points on spins and sequences with incomplete features.  And then there are the costumes that scream, look at my butt and admire my package.  Jeffrey Buttle and Nobunari Oda also faltered in the final Free Skating and dropped in the standings.  Buttle has lost the triple Axel, and also received negative GoEs on three other jump elements.  Oda, on the other hand, seemed to succumb to a case of nerves.

Wednesday, March 22

Another busy day.  The two Ladies qualifying groups took place today, split by the Pairs Free Skating in the middle.

Fumie Suguri won Group A, with a 0.04 lead over Kimmie Meissner.  So consider them tied.  Sasha Cohen had a mediocre skate and ended up third in Group A, and with 110.36 points, fifth for the day.  In  Group B Joannie Rochette had a good skate, placing first with 117.12 points -- not a particularly good point total for a championships event, but still the best of the day.  With a 0.25 weighting factor for the qualifying rounds, anyone with around 100 points is still in the running for a medal and anyone with around 110 points is still in the running for the gold.

In the Pairs final, Qing Pang & Jian Tong had the best skate of the field and won the gold medal in a surprise victory.  Countrymen Dan Zhang & Hao Zhang made several errors and placed fourth in the Free Skating.  This held on, though, for the silver medal.  Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov placed second in the Free Skating to win the bronze medal,

Rena Inoue & John Bladwin had there best skate of the season and improved their personal best score by nearly 9 points.  They were third in the Free Skating and had the highest element score of the field.  They landed triple toe loops for the first time in competition this season and also the throw triple Axel, but with a negative GoE due to a hand down on the landing.

Tuesday, March 21

The day's events began with an inexplicable Compulsory Dance, and ended with the Men's Short Program.  We start with men.

Brian Joubert won the Short Program, but with only enough points to put him in second place overall.  Stephanie Lambiel, who racked up major points in the qualifying round ended the day holding first place with a 3.16 lead.  Currently, Joubert's and Nobunari Oda, who also turned in another fine performance in the Short Program, are the only two skaters who have a reasonable chance of moving ahead of Lambiel in the Free Skate.  Below the top four, only Johnny Weir, Evan Lysacek and Emanuel Sandhu retain outside chances to slip in for the bronze, but there chances are not good, being 7 to 9 points back.  They will have to skate great in the Free Skate, and hope that one of the leaders falls on his sword in order to medal here.

The results in the Compulsory Dance today, however, were far more intriguing.  Bulgarians Albena Denkova & Maxim Staviski won the dance, with Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon second and Americans Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto, the Olympic silver medalists, third.  Fourth place went to the French team of Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder, while Lithuanians Margarita Drobiazko & Povilas Vanagas were placed fifth.

The surprising part is not that the Canadians placed in the top group.  Dubreuil & Lauzon skated well in Torino until the point where Dubreuil lost her grip and went flying off Lauzon's arm in the Original Dance.  So it was expected they would do well here.  And then there is the fact, of course, that we are in Canada.

No, the surprising results are the first place scores of Denkova & Staviski, and the third place scores of Belbin & Agosto, which many observers did not agree with.

Go figure!  Well we did.

When the protocols are posted after the event take a look and you will notice some strange things.  Judge 9 gave the Bulgarian couple substantially higher marks than the rest of the panel, Judge 1 gave the French couple substantially higher marks than the rest of the panel, and Judge 6 gave Belbin & Agosto slightly higher marks than the rest of the panel.

But there is more that is strange.  Judge 1 not only had the French couple first, but also the Bulgarian couple second.  Judge 9 had the Bulgarian couple first and the French couple second.  Judge 1 had Belbin & Agosto fourth, while Judge 9 had them fifth.

The marks in the protocol give every appearance that Judges 1 and 9 were working together to support the Bulgarian and French teams and simultaneously to mark Belbin & Agosto down.

The dance results in Torino were a marvel of inconsistency among the judges.  First place marks were spread out among several teams in each dance, which kept the scores in Torino incredibly close.  The two couples that came out on the losing end of all that were the French couple and the Bulgarian couple.  This leads one to naturally ask, if the results today are some form of payback for the results in Torino.

Finally, we note that though one cannot absolutely identify the judges due to the anonymity of the system, one can identify which nine of the twelve judges were used in the scoring.  For the Compulsory Dance, of the 12 judges, judges 3, 7 and 8 were the discarded judges.  Thus, the biased marks of Judges 1 and 9 (whoever they may have been), counted in the scoring and contributed to Belbin & Agosto's third place finish, where they currently sit, 0.87 points behind the leaders and just 0.29 points ahead of the French couple.

This situation also illustrates the way that random selection of the judges can work to amplify the effect of anomalous judges.  Had the entire panel been used Judges 1 and 9 would make up 17% of the scores.  However, since both of these judges were included in the results calculation using the nine random selected judges they instead made up 22% of the scores.  Further, since both judges made it through the random selection, it is guaranteed that one set of biased marks had full effect in spite of the single trimmed mean, while other had a partial effect in skewing the scores.

Monday, March 20

Today was one of those suck all the life out of you, non-stop days that are the qualifying rounds at the World Championships.  Four hours of skating today packed into just 13 hours.  Would the fun never end?  It certainly seemed like it would not.

In the Men's qualifying groups Stephane Lambiel opened up a substantial lead, earning 160.90 points in Group A.  Next behind him was Nobunari Oda, the winner of Group B, with 144.90 points.  Even taking into account the reduced weighting factor for the qualifying scores, Lambiel is comfortably in the lead, and the other favorites here have to hope that Lambiel falls on his sword in the Short Program or the Free Skating, in order to challenge for the title.

In Pairs the results in the Short Program were exactly what one might have expected based on the results from the recent Olympic Games.  With the Olympic Gold and Bronze medalists absent here, the order of finish for the remaining teams that came to Worlds matched the relative placements in Torino.  Less than a point separate the leaders Dan Zhang& Hao Zhang, and the fellow countrymen Qing Pang & Jian Tong.

Tomorrow we have the skating of the Compulsory Dance (Ravensburger Waltz) and the Men's Short Program.

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